New York Daily Photo Analytics

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mad as Hell, Part 2

(See Part 1 here)



Life does imitate art - the end of this story was remarkably like the classic scene in the Academy Award winning 1976 film Network, where news anchor Howard Beale is so angry, he persuades TV viewers across the nation to stick their heads out of a window and scream "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore!" If you are not familiar with it, I suggest you see it here before you continue this story.

Trust me when I tell you that in all the decades I have lived in this city, I have seen many hostile interventions during street performers' acts. Very belligerent heckling, some nearly stopping the show. But I have never seen anything like this.

An older woman appeared with her dog in tow and stood prominently in the center of the group and began screaming SHUT UP repeatedly to the audience and the singers. The group, not to be upstaged, continued singing.
This woman was SCREAMING at the top of her lungs - shrieking, clenching her fists and shaking. I was genuinely concerned that she would have a heart attack and that her next battle with noise would be with an ambulance siren.

She would not stop, and when audience members began responding that they were enjoying a quality performance, she screamed - "Take them home with you." She vehemently stated that she was a neighborhood resident living across the street, facing the area where the singers and crowd were located. She further claimed they had been singing for at least 6 hours per day for three days in a row and she was at wits end - apparently she was mad as hell and was not gonna take it anymore.
After some time, one of the singers apologized to her and the audience, stating that her wishes should be respected. Another one of the singers told her to calm down and assured her, "you win".

I spoke for a short time to this woman. I expressed my understanding of the dilemma and told her that I also was a long time neighborhood resident living over a park and have had my own issues with noise. I, along with others, pointed out that this is New York City. Worse, it was Greenwich Village on Bleecker Street. If she lived on the Upper East Side on a side street, I am sure she would have the quiet enjoyment she is entitled to. But this is Greenwich Village and I would guess she chose this neighborhood for its iconoclastic nature - with that comes a price. It is a mecca for culture, the arts and entertainment with clubs, restaurants, theaters, galleries, shops and plenty of street life. This environment will attract both tourists and performers.

There is also a lot of noise and a greater tolerance by all including the police. I asked if she ever called the police. She said she had and nothing happens. My own personal solution is to plan around noisy events - i often will just leave my home. Principle and rights are one thing, but City Hall opens on Monday morning, and this is Saturday night. Accuse me of resignation or being a man unwilling to fight for his rights. I'm a pragmatist, and being mad as hell will get me nowhere.

22 comments:

Michelle Johnson said...

I'm sure she is mad as hell because your pictures reflect it. She just had to get her 2 cents worth and 15 minutes of fame in. I'm sure she was at wits end though hearing the same song over and over three days straight. But, I can't help but laugh as it made for a good story. Have a great day.

rian said...

hmm.. what a grouch..

Mary said...

It is broad daylight...but he does have an amp. I'm sure it's loud. I guess she just snapped.

What a tough way to make a living.

Janine Marie said...

This is hilarious, I don't live in NY but last time I was there I saw a situation very much like this. Except the elderly man was yelling from across the street. Gave me something to laugh about when I got back home and told the story.

Someone Said said...

Don't like using the cliche, but Only In New York!

Great story and pictures.

Naomid Recipes & Design said...

Wow look at her veins popping!

Brian Dubé said...

rian - actually the guitar and amp were barely audible. The singers are largely what is heard.

Naomid - Yes, her veins were popping. Yhat's why I was worried.

Eamon said...

What a great narrative - keep 'em comin'!

Brian Dubé said...

Eamon - Thanks. I was unsure how this type of thing would be received - it's quite a departure from the early days of New York Daily Photo.

Brian Dubé said...

Eamon - Thanks. I was unsure how this type of thing would be received - it's quite a departure from the early days of New York Daily Photo.

Steve said...

The surprising part of this story is that the singers apologized. They do have an obligation to the neighborhood, you know. It's good to see they recognize that.

Mirela said...

Great photos! I'm guessing she must have moved to the area looong before it became arts/culture/performance/you-name-it center. However, if it's the middle of the day, and the performances don't continue into the night (e.g. after 10PM), I really don't see how anyone has a right to say anything.....

Btw, the moment I saw the frist photo, I immediately thought if she had a heart attack afterwards.

Brian Dubé said...

Mirela,
Actually, Greenwich Village was a bohemian center going back to the late 19th century. Places like the Whitney Club (later an art museum) was established in 1914. The Cherry Lane Theatre was established in 1924. The area was home to the beat generation in the 1950s. This area has had an artistic/bohemian history before this woman was born and I imagine for a woman her age, that had to be a factor in her living there. More so really than today, where much of the residents are younger, upwardly mobile and much of the "bohemian" character is relatively nonexistent, i.e. working artists etc.

Anonymous said...

is this photo taken at the corner of Bleeker and Cornelia Street? looks familiar.

Brian Dubé said...

Anon - yes, that is the spot.

Thérèse said...

At the end everyone had fun and let it out in the street and at home. It does the body and the mind good.

hpy said...

I can understand the woman. I can understand the band and the audience too. But when you're getting older some of us start to have more problems with noise, and not only during night time.
Some of us start to shout, some of us start to shoot! I wish there were more shouting than shooting old people...

Beth in NYC said...

Well, it was a beautiful summer day after a lot of rain in the middle of Greenwich Village. Some people like to crab just for because they can.

This story puts me in mind of the Matter of Trust video by Billy Joel. It was set in an East Village(?) basement apartment. He drew a huge crowd but one lady across the street screamed "shut up!" from her apartment window. I don't know if it was staged but it's a fun coincidence.

tapirgal said...

This was a great story and photo essay. I really enjoyed it, and it was thought-provoking. I've always loved street music (especially if they're good!) but had not thought what it must be like to hear the same thing over and over. She probably felt the same way I do when a car alarm goes off and there's nothing I can do about it. I guess if a person could afford it, they'd put in better soundproof windows and only enjoy the music when they wanted to. I have to laugh a little, though, because I think you'd rather have nice music for a neighbor than gang violence or rampant crime! A well-written post!

stacyshomejournal said...

Don't argue with an angry woman with a Pit Bull

Anonymous said...

What I would give to be able to write so beautifully!

Brian Dubé said...

Anonymous - Thank you so much. Appreciation like this means everything to me.